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McCaleb: In Springfield and D.C., nothing gets done

Before I get started today, let me pinch myself.

Ouch.

And open my front blinds to take a peek.

Whoa, bright. The sun did come up this morning.

And turn on the TV.

Blah, blah, blah.

Yep, same old talking heads spewing the same old partisan nonsense on the Sunday morning politico shows.

Looks like we made it.

So far, anyway.

Turns out this latest Doomsday scenario coming out of Washington, D.C., the one known as sequestration, isn’t the end of the world as we know it.

OK, it’s barely been a full day since the automatic budget cuts were put into place because Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill failed to reach a compromise on a new plan to reduce the deficit.

The sequester means our federal government will reduce spending by about $85 billion this year, much of it coming from the military. In the grand scheme of things – and by that, I mean our annual budget deficits of more than $1 trillion – $85 billion isn’t much more than loose change in Congress’s collective pocket.

The fact is, we have a lot more cutting to do to right our fiscal ship.

President Barack Obama hoped to postpone the sequester cuts by adopting more tax increases along with targeted budget cuts. Republicans would have none of it.

All of the posturing leading up to Friday’s deadline – from both sides of the aisle – was nothing more than just that – posturing.

The next doomsday comes in less than a month. On March 27, we face a government shutdown if Congress can’t reach a budget deal.

The way I figure it, I’m still alive and kicking today, even after the sequestration doomsday.

It’s got me kinda, sorta rooting for the shutdown.

• • •

Speaking of doomsday: If following the nonsense in Washington, D.C., weren’t enough ...

Our elected officials in Springfield continue to baffle. Illinois has the worst-funded public pension system in the U.S. Underfunded by more than $90 billion, it’s crippling our state’s economy.

Yet lawmakers still won’t do anything about it.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, who usually prefers to handle the state’s business behind closed doors, put forth four potential reform measures on the House floor on Thursday that would have eliminated cost-of-living increases, raised the retirement age, and/or required larger pension contributions from state employees.

All of them were roundly defeated. Republicans refused to even participate in the voting.

As each week passes without pension reform, the pension deficit grows by millions of dollars.

The state can’t pay its bills as it is, yet our elected officials continue to do nothing.

For what it’s worth, state Rep. Jack Franks’ call to suspend all other legislative business until pension reform is figured out has my support.

• • •

Artists needed: On a more upbeat note, the city of Crystal Lake will be celebrating its centennial anniversary in 2014.

In anticipation of that, a Centennial Committee has been established to plan the city’s yearlong 100th birthday party.

Every good centennial needs a logo, so the committee is conducting a logo contest, and is seeking local artists to participate. Participants must either live, work or go to school in Crystal Lake for their entries to be considered.

The winner of the logo contest will receive a $100 I Shop Crystal Lake gift certificate and the recognition for creating the Centennial logo, said George J. Koczwara, deputy Crystal Lake city manager. Four other finalists also will receive a $100 I Shop Crystal Lake gift certificate.

The deadline to submit an entry is March 22. Visit http://shawurl.com/ixj for contest information and a submission form.

Good luck.

• • •

New editor: Jason Schaumburg begins his tenure Monday as Northwest Herald’s editor. As I mentioned in this space a couple of weeks ago, Schaumburg is former assistant sports editor, sports editor and managing editor of this newspaper.

He’s also been the top newsroom leader at the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb and the Sun-Times-owned Pioneer Press papers throughout suburban Chicago. He’s a proven journalist and leader who knows and loves McHenry County.

I am starting my new position as group editor for Northwest Herald’s parent company, Shaw Media. In this position, I will oversee editorial content and production for all of Shaw’s suburban publications, including this one.

I still plan to be active in the Northwest Herald newsroom and on these pages.

I’ve enjoyed my time as editor, none moreso than when I’ve conversed with our loyal readers. Even when a reader called to complain about something – and those times have been many – I’ve appreciated that feedback. That means our readers care. This is as much your newspaper as it is anyone’s.

When those phone calls stop, that means our readers have stopped caring, or stopped reading.

Please join me in welcoming Schaumburg back – his email is jschaumburg@shawmedia.com. Don’t hesitate to reach out to him with story ideas, comments, questions or criticisms. He’ll appreciate your feedback as I much as I do.

As always, though, I’ll still be around and hope to continue hearing from you, too.

• Crystal Lake resident Dan McCaleb is group editor for Shaw Media’s suburban publications, which includes the Northwest Herald. He can be reached at 815-526-4603, or by email at dmccaleb@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Dan_McCaleb.

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